Here’s a post from Janet Reid, about the reasons she turned down 25 queries. This kind of list can be really interesting if you’re trying to go the traditional-publishing route, and actually I still find posts like this interesting today. There’s something about that list format, and evidence from the real world is always fascinating. What ARE people querying? How ARE their queries failing? — or succeeding, because Janet says she went on to request additional material from four other queriers, but this post is not about that.
So, click through to read the whole list, but I will summarize:
Category A: This is memoir, but your story does not feel like anyone not you would find it compelling or relevant. Interesting events are all very well, but a memoir has to feel relevant to the reader, not just to the author. Two queries, maybe three.
Category B: You have no plot. Four queries, maybe more.
Category C: I have no idea what this book is about. Two queries.
Category D: Bad writing (I am summarizing more extensive comments and lumping stuff together; click through to see it all broken down). Four queries.
Category E: Your book doesn’t sound like it would appeal to me personally at all, but might be okay for someone else: Five queries
That’s most of them. There are a few others that make me really curious, like: “Querier does not understand what ‘a novel’ means.” Oookay, what could that query have looked like? I guess we’ll never know.
Someone once, on hearing that I write, sent me a free copy of his ebook. (I am too polite to refuse such offers.) His novel-like work had quite good dialogue, but all description and movement was described more like he was giving stage directions. This is what comes to mind for me when I see things like “Does not understand what ‘a novel’ means.”